CONSTRUCTORS: ASTON MARTIN

Name: Aston Martin

In 1913 London Singer dealers Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin decided to build their own car. They fitted a Coventry Simplex engine into an Isotta Fraschini chassis in their garage at Abingdon Road, Kensington. They called it an Aston Martin. The following year the company found a patron in Count Louis Zborowski, a wealthy British-based racing driver who had a Polish father and an American mother. He campaigned for a strong sporting involvement. In 1922 Aston Martin Ltd. entered a car for Bertie Kensington-Moir driving in the International 1500 Trophy on the Isle of Man and a month later Zborowski and Clive Gallop raced at the French GP in Strasbourg. In August there were three cars in the Junior Car Club 200 at Brookslands and Kensington-Moir led the race only to retire with magneto failure. At the end of the season the cars were raced at Villafranca in Spain with Zborowski and Douglas Hawkes driving. Zborowski led the race but had a puncture and had to settle for second place.

The following year Gallop raced in the Spanish GP at Sitges, while Zborowski had landed himself a driver with the American firm Miller. Later in the year the cars showed well in a race in Boulogne in the hands of amateurs and there was a big turnout of Aston Martins for the Junior Car Club 200 at Brooklands with George Eyston finishing fourth. Zborowski finished the year with second place in the Penya Rhin GP at Villafranca and third at the Spanish Voiturette GP at Sitges.

In 1924 the Aston Martins appeared in a variety of voiturette races but failed to win while the company suffered a serious setback with the death at Monza of Zborowski, who hit a tree in his Mercedes Grand Prix car. In the years that followed under the patronage of Augustus Bertelli the tradition of racing continued with Aston Martin becoming a successful name in the sport, although the company made little impact in single-seater racing. The Aston Martins continued to appear in voiturette racing but without much success.

The new Grand Prix formula in 1926 opened the way for the cars to race and George Eyston raced an Anzani-engined Aston Martin at the British GP, while Basil Eyston raced one at the Grand Prix de Boulogne and in the Junior Car Club 200 at Brooklands but thereafter the name dropped from single-seater racing. In 1932 the company passed into the hands of R G Sutherland and there were some successes in sportscar racing with the Aston Martin Ulster.

It was only after the Second World War that Aston Martin's sporting history really took off, following the purchase of the company and its merger with Lagonda to form Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., under the guidance of David Brown. The company entered and won the Spa 24 Hours in 1948 and appeared at Le Mans in 1949. Throughout the 1950s Aston Martin would battle for victory in the classic French race but it was not until 1959 that the team scored an historic 1-2 finish with Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby leading home Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere.

In the mid-1950s a single-seater Aston Martin based on the DB3 raced in New Zealand with Reg Parnell finishing second at Dunedin and Lex Davison later drove to second place in the Australian GP at Lowood in 1960.

In 1959 Brown decided to enter Grand Prix racing again with the Ted Cutting-designed DBR4/250 being built at the Aston Martin factory in Feltham. Unfortunately, the car was an obsolete front-engined model and Salvadori and Shelby struggled to be competitive, although Salvadori's second place on the car's debut in the International Trophy was promising. Salvadori added a few minor placings that year.

The cars were redesigned for 1960 and Salvadori was joined by Maurice Trintignant but performance did not improve and the company gave up F1 at the end of the year.

The company continued to boom during the 1960s and in 1968 Brown was knighted for his services to the automotive industry. He retired in 1972. Aston Martin struggled in the 1970s and had several owners in the course of the next 15 years. There were a variety of sportscar programs but the company steered clear of single-seaters.

Aston Martin was bought in 1987 by the Ford Motor Company.

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